An important movement has begun which is initiating a platform of discussion on how different services can work together to improve service delivery for those experiencing homelessness.
Understanding health as a right and believing that oral health should be seen in a wider health context in Scotland, Dr Andrea Rodriguez, Senior Research Fellow, represents Smile4life at the Dundee City Council Joint Strategy Commissioning for Homelessness.
A strategic plan to prevent and mitigate homelessness in Dundee started to be built in 2015 and was launched in December 2016 for this commission to be carried out by 2021. Focussing on health and social care integration, one of the actions mentioned in the plan is led by our Dental Health Services Research Unit (DHSRU) and partnerships with Shelter Scotland and the Oral Health Improvement Team from NHS Tayside.
It includes a wider implementation of the Smile4life programme across non-governmental organisations, working directly with homeless people and a mapping of services and support available in local communities against prevalence of homelessness across Dundee. The first action will provide oral health training for staff coming from third sector based on the Smile4life Guide for Trainers.
The second action, the mapping exercise, will identify gaps in service provision in order to inform future service developments and also encourage better integration and communication between different sectors in the homelessness context. The same mapping structure is already in progress in other cities such Aberdeen and Edinburgh and led by key partners contacted by the research team as a result of a real process of collaboration.
Last year DHSRU and Shelter Scotland ran an event to discuss health and social care integration with delegates from diverse areas in Dundee. Last month it was Aberdeen's turn to receive the same event gathering delegates from diverse sectors. A report has been produced to show the key recommendations that were made by the participants.
Dr Andrea Rodriguez said, “We are delighted to be a part of collaborative processes that are designing public policies on homelessness. This is the only way to achieve the research impact that we always intended to. We are producing studies and research findings directly related with the social demands in our city and our country.”